Syrah (Shiraz)

Red grapeI was once locked in a warehouse by a Mexican winery owner and subjected to a light display about grapes. Long story. But an interesting part of his presentation was when he said “Imagine you are a grape, are you silky soft Pinot or sexy Syrah”. And that stayed with me because Syrah is most definitely a sexy grape.

Starting with its aroma, all raspberry ripple and floral with an exotic spicy twist. And then on the palate it seems to combine a smooth warming body with luscious fruit, yet with a grippy, firm hold to the finish. Sexy, right?

And if you want to classify the difference between Syrah and Shiraz, well it is mostly where it is grown – they are identical grapes. Shiraz is most notably grown in Australia (as well as other new world countries) where the warm climate gives the wines it smoothes and most unctuous styles. Then if you take Syrah’s home in the Rhone Valley France, the native flora and fauna give the wine are more wild and complex flavour whilst sharing that core of rich red fruits.

The Facts

A grape with naturally deep colour and high tannin. Suited well to warm climates, creating a variety of styles depending on where it is grown. More peppery in cool climates, rounder and smooth in warm climate with brown sugar richness. Naturally reductive, which means it sometimes can be closed and have a burnt match aroma when first poured in the glass, but with air and time will open out to its full showy character. Ages with interesting wild savoury, earthy characters; particularly with Rhone styles.


Tempranillo, Garnacha, Carignan, Malbec

Classic Regions

France: Rhone, Languedoc

Australia: Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Hunter Valley

South Africa: Stellenbosch, Paarl

California: Paso Robles

Chile: Limari, Elqui

New Zealand: Hawkes Bay

Food Matches

BBQ meat, pulled pork, lamb ragu, roasted vegetables